Keep showing up. Keep pressing on. Keep toiling.
I’m ready. Finally.
Well, honestly, I’ve been ready for a while. At times wanting to shout some of this from the stage or the top of a skyscraper. But I haven’t. And I realize those of you reading this most likely weren’t waiting with bated breath to hear these things…but I was to say them. I need to say all of this.
The truth about endings is that they’re often incredibly gut wrenching and simultaneously glorious. I’ve experienced a lot of endings in the last several years. Some were by very deliberate choice, and some felt as if there was no alternative in sight for a thousand miles.
One of those things was my marriage.
Let me start this off by making something 100% crystal clear – there was no affair or infidelity. On either side of the equation.
I’ve been waiting to SCREAM that publically for years. While my heart and life were disintegrating, I was standing in my spot on stage at a church where I led worship, Sunday after Sunday, trying to keep my shit together all while hearing rumors and gossip about my own life that was, incidentaly, FAR more wild and interesting than reality. I heard things said about me that broke my heart, made me roll my eyes, and at times actually cracked me up. I wanted to yell from the microphone that the things people were saying were simply NOT the truth. I wanted to defend myself and confront the people spreading lies face to face. It hurt so badly to be misunderstood and misrepresented.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t corner anyone or talk about the pain unless I absolutely had to. Somehow I felt I owed it to everyone else around me to keep it in. I felt I had to try to deflect the chatter, keep my chin up, be strong, and protect them from how I actually felt.
Some of the lies told were told by people who seemingly couldn’t wait to see me fall on my face. For a couple of people in particular, it was as if they had been saving up their best venom for “such a time as this.” As rumors spread, I found myself working harder to stay ahead of the growing tsunami rather than turning to face it. Slowly people at this church who had once embraced me and seemed so happy to encounter me on a Sunday, started to lower their gazes when they passed me on their way to the donuts. People called the pastor to schedule meetings about MY life…how they had heard this or that…didn’t approve…weren’t sure if they could continue attending the church with me leading, ect.
But those people didn’t stop and ask me if I was ok, or how all of it was affecting the kids.
Funny what we can find time for, huh?
The lies and gossip had caused a shift in my relationships with people at the church, in my band, then eventually my businesses. It literally cost us some accounts with people who’d been listening too hard to the clamor as well as others who had been instructed not to use my businesses anymore by people in power.
We stopped being asked to play at different events and I wasn’t being asked to speak or play at women’s gatherings anymore. Eventually I found out just how far the reach of the lies had spread when my then 7 year old daughter was being questioned about my relationships at her elementary school - by adults. Wow.
Why is it that we rejoice when someone else has fallen down sometimes? What’s that about?
Please know, I’m not angry. Truly. I’m not mad at anyone for filling in the blanks…I get it. We’re ALL human and we do and say things sometimes because we don’t see or feel the direct effect of our words. Maybe we don’t think past the conversations we have (or don’t have) to see the ripple effect spreading. This has all been a good reminder to me that those ripples eventually reach the shore, strike something solid and head back to the source with more momentum than they started with. I will forever attempt to be more aware of my own wake.
This wasn’t written in search of condolences or to stir anger. I just wanted to finally say it all out loud. And, to acknowledge that change and endings are hard. This huge ending was also mixed in with us (cedars) leaving that church (in a way that was NOT by our design) and both of those endings touched many people. The wake became even bigger. I still feel that almost daily.
But on the other side of pain, IF we’re willing to learn from it, we find the good stuff. The really good stuff.
I still have loads of work to do, but I was shown in all of this, that I have people around me who see me. Who love me. Who stand next to me waiting to help absorb the next wave headed my way. What a lotus in the proverbial shit that is. :) But if we don’t ask those around us about their endings, we can’t be invited to hold their pain with them. And let me tell you something, holding someone’s pain, and conversely, having someone carry some of yours, is just about as sacred as it gets.
I’ve also learned over and over though endings, that if we’re vulnerable, willing to lean into the grief and pain they can bring, something inside us unfolds and gets brighter. We get stretched, but we don’t have to break. It’s like the hurt somehow wraps us up and holds us if we don’t deny its existence. When we’re vulnerable, we find so much connection, compassion and beauty.
I’m looking for that here. With you. Reading this.
There are bills to pay, songs to record, projects that are overdue, a generation of children starving to death in Yemen, school programs to rush to, children to raise, exhausted asylum seekers running from tear gas, women still earning less than $0.79 cents on the dollar compared to our male counterparts, a planet that’s screaming for healing from climate change, and a dear friend who just lost someone else to suicide.
And that’s just today’s list.
My heart hurts. It aches. When days like this come, it feels like I might never be able to sing again. It’s all so much. The constant pressure and drive to succeed. The “wrong” we see and hear about all around us. It makes me want to throw myself into social justice work, sell all my possessions and head to the front lines, find a cure for cancer and heal the deep racial divides (still) plaguing our country.
How? I’m just one woman. One person. 5’ 9” with shoes on. Not to mention I have no law degree, cape, magic wand or super powers.
But what I DO have, what’s right here in front of me, is a garden I CAN tend. The garden I can actually touch.
It looks like the kids I’m raising, the friends I have the honour of holding pain with, the wildly empathetic heart burning in my chest. (BTW, you have one too.) It’s the neighbors I check on, the art I make, the music we write, the pride I feel when I exercise my right to vote in local elections and when take my girls to the food bank to help. Healing all the pain in our world seems so overwhelming…completely impossible. But I know that our tiniest efforts to simply “do good” compile and multiply like fishes and loaves. I have to believe every drop counts, every inch forward is momentum and that when I treat the people in front of me and the life around me with care and compassion, well, I have to believe that spreads. That it somehow chips away at the broken systems that so often seem to harm those they were designed to protect.
In the quiet, unglamorous mantra of one foot in front of the other, digging in and looking hard at my own shadow…somehow I find my voice. Er, maybe it’s better to say that it finds me. Again and again it returns, reminding me that singing is enough. It’s part of my garden, it’s what I have to offer. It’s a drop. It’s an inch.
What does your garden look like? We need you to tend and cultivate it now more than ever. I’d love to hear your answers if you’re willing to share.
Like so many of us, I’ve been thinking a lot about the shooting that occurred just a few days ago. Once again we all find ourselves in a numb confusion. Like a pack of circling vultures, the familiar rhythms of questions we know all too well begin again: why did this happen again? What could we have done to prevent this? What do we do now? Thoughts and prayers flow again alongside louder calls for gun reform.
I am TERRIBLE at self care. I’m working so hard on improving, but honestly, I suck at it. Anyone else? What do you do to take care of yourself? Not just your body, but your mind and soul too…
I know the familiar place I end up in after a big creative project ends, a song is completed, an event is successfully behind us or even “smaller” challenges like making payroll for everyone on staff…we get through said thing, I finally exhale, and then the inevitable crash.
But lately, it’s been a bit different. I’ve had this draining, heavy feeling. (I know I’m a bit exhausted…if you know me, you know I go 100 MPH pretty much all the time.) But this has a different weight to it. It’s a heaviness that’s been sitting on my shoulders and in the pit of my stomach in a different way. It’s been with me for the last coupla weeks. Maybe longer.
A friend posted a message today that made it begin to come into focus. Her post was giving us all permission to hurt right now. The heaviness that has momentarily landed me in bed is heartache. It’s grief. For our country, for families who have lost so much, for gun violence, injustice, exhausted migrants, and oppression. It’s a lot y’all.
It’s as though I can literally FEEL the collective anxiety of our nation - of our planet. And you know what, that’s ok. I want to feel it all. I want cry for lives lost even though I will never know the people closest to them, who are now trying to manage life with their loved ones absent. I want be outraged when I see images in the news of kids – CHILDREN- with scars on their bodies because they survived a school shooting this year and are now trying to figure out how to “just be a teenager” after going through such trauma.
This pain becomes fuel for me, and I’m grateful for that. And for permission to hold this grief even though it’s “not mine”. Because it should be. I’m not throwing in any towels…I’ll get up and do my work and love people. But I needed the reminder that my broken heart is allowed and it has permission to feel all the things.
You have permission too, just in case you needed to hear that.